Quotebook: Goal Setting

As one of the world’s preeminent advisers to CEOs and boards, Ram Charan has spent the past 35 years on the road, watching hundreds of executives deal with their toughest challenges.

Here’s his take on the greatest mistake CEOs make in setting goals:

“As a rule CEOs don’t give enough attention to setting goals. The greatest mistake they make is to look in the rearview mirror at what they did last year or at what their competition did. The brilliant decision makers look at the runway ahead.”  (Harvard Business Review, November, 2013)

When you set goals…are you looking in the rearview mirror?  Or are you looking at the runway ahead?  A brilliant insight.

By the way, I’ve greatly benefitted from the insights of Ram Charan.  He is the co-author of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (with Larry Bossidy) and Know-How: the 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Great New Men’s Study from Craig Groeschel: Fight: Winning the Battles That Matter Most

fightHad an opportunity over the weekend to check out Fight, a new study for men from Craig Groeschel.  Fight: Winning the Battles That Matter Most is a 5 session, DVD-driven study that I think you’re going to want to take a look at.

Anchored by Groeschel’s dynamic teaching, each of the DVD sessions are about 20 minutes long, on the upper end of today’s attention spans…but still very watchable.  Presented in front of a live audience, there are no punches pulled here.  This is Craig Groeschel at his most direct.

The study guide includes a video viewing guide, a great set of discussion questions (written by long-time Willow Creek veteran Judson Poling), and an individual activity designed to help capture the key takeaway from the session.  A section for personal study is also included for each of the 5 sessions.  Designed to be used in conjunction with Groeschel’s hardback by the same title, each of the personal study assignments contain a few insight generating questions that will take the learnings from the group session deeper.

The reading assignment each week is about 30 pages long. but it is an easy-to-read, very attention grabbing exercise.  Packed with personal stories and illustrations from the life of Samson, possibly the greatest Bible story for men to understand.

Looking for a campaign that will help the men in your church uncover who they really are–men created in the image of God with a warrior’s heart–and learn how to stand up and fight for what is right?  Fight is designed to be used as a church-wide campaign that will do just that.  Additional resources are being added to www.fightthebook.com and www.open.lifechurch.tv including downloadable preaching resources, promotional pieces and samples.

Fight is a great addition to the recommended list for men and men’s small groups.  If you’re looking for material that will resonate with guys…you really need to check this one out.  I like it and I think you will too.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tall Tales and Downright Whoppers That Keep Churches from Launching New Groups

What keeps you from launching more new groups?  A few days ago Thom Rainer posted an article that asked a great question: Why don’t more churches have a strategy to start new groups.  Good stuff.  Can’t wait to see his take.  I think the answer to the question is actually pretty simple.  Most churches don’t launch new groups because they’ve accepted as gospel some tall tales and downright whoppers.

Here are a 5 of the biggest tall tales and downright whoppers:

  1. We don’t have qualified leaders ready to start new groups.  This is a very common rationalization, but the truth is almost always that we’ve made the barrier to entry too high.  Rather than rejecting candidates who aren’t Jesus Jr., why not make it easy to say “yes” and easy to take a first step?  Remember, Jesus began with the B team.  His earliest recruits were available because they weren’t already busy following another rabbi.  See also, Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar and Crowd Friendly Leader Qualification.
  2. The potential leaders we have won’t commit to leading.  The truth?  We’ve made our entry-level expectations too high!  Make a one year commitment?  Leaders need to be members and tithers?  Attend a weekly or monthly leaders’ meeting?  How about making the first step into leading an easy one?  How about making the first step a toe-in-the-water instead of a cannonball?  6 weeks instead of year?  A test-drive that eventually leads to a purchase?  See also, Small Group Host Expectations and Small Group Leader Expectations.
  3. We’ve tried to launch new groups and failed.  Yes, but how did you try before?  Granted, but what strategy did you use to launch new groups?  Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.”  The particular methods and strategies used in the attempt to launch new groups must be evaluated.  Conducting an “autopsy without blame” after key initiatives is an essential step.  See also, Innovation Step One: Acknowledge What’s Not Working and Resolve to Become an Innovator.
  4. We need to fill our existing groups before we start new groups.  This compulsion is a major strategic misstep.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Group leaders and even group members must be trained to be on the lookout for new members and fill their own groups.  New groups are essential if you want to connect unconnected people.  There is a reason they haven’t joined one of your existing groups.  Whether it is a good reason is irrelevant.  The point is, we must have a bias toward new groups if we want to connect unconnected people.  See also, A Bias Toward New Groups, Top 10 Ways to Find New Group Members and 5 Assumptions That Stunt Small Group Ministry Growth.
  5. Our existing group leaders expect us to promote their groups first (or equally).  This is a dangerous expectation that underlies an even more perilous assumption.  The assumption?  That every program or opportunity is due equal time.  The reality is that wise leaders must narrow the focus and promote the path that leads most directly to the desired destination.  It’s been demonstrated convincingly that providing more options actually leads to fewer decisions.  See also, Narrowing the Focus Leads to a Church OF Groups and Is an Artificial Barrier Limiting Growth in Your Small Group Ministry.

What do you think?  Have one to add?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Top 10 Posts for October, 2013

Miss a day?  Here are the top 10 posts for October, 2013.  I kept my streak alive with three posts from October, 2013, but 7 of my top 10 most popular posts this month were from my archives!

Very cool…I had visitors from 98 countries around the world!  Thanks for stopping by!

Here are my top 10 posts for October, 2013:

  1. Clue #1 When Designing Your Small Group Ministry (February, 2011)
  2. Four Questions Every Coach Should Be Asking (January, 2010)
  3. Skill Training: Equip Leaders to Help Members to Grow (January, 2010)
  4. 8 Commitments for Small Group Leaders (October, 2013) 
  5. Skill Training: Design Your Group Meeting for Life-Change (March, 2013)
  6. 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader (October, 2013)
  7. How to Launch Groups Using a Small Group Connection (May, 2008)
  8. Steve Gladen on Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway (January, 2011)
  9. Connect with Your Neighbors This Fall: Top 10 Ideas for Small Groups (October, 2013)
  10. The Teeny, Tiny Detail at the Bottom of This Saddleback Page (February, 2012)

Dilbert on the Benefit of Meetings

Sometimes it’s too close to the truth…but you still need to laugh:

50 percent more meetings

5 Simple Moves That Will Shift Your Ministry to a New Trajectory

The moves I’m going to suggest are simple.  They’re not hard to understand.  They’re not even hard to execute.  They’re not easy.  They will take some work.  But they’re not complicated.  They’re simple and they will shift your ministry to a new trajectory.

Here are 5 simple moves:

  1. Choose a cross-cultural church-wide campaign for February, 2014.  It’s not complicated.  Choose an off-the-shelf campaign on a topic that your friends and neighbors care about.  Imagine yourself walking next door to invite your neighbors to attend.  What would the topic have to be for them to even consider joining your group?  See also, Top 5 January/February Church-Wide Campaigns for 2014 and 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People.
  2. Adjust the height of your leader bar to make it easy to begin.  This is a simple move with huge dividends.  Making it easy to say “yes” to hosting a group allows the people with the largest number of strong connections into the community to play.  You can still set parameters that mitigate the risk of this move (i.e., Anyone can pick up group material as long as they’re filling their own group with members. If you want your group listed on the group finder you need to meet an additional requirement.).  See also, Customized Leader Requirements and Benefits and Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar, or Open Bar?
  3. Identify and recruit key testimonies for January.  The simplest way to move the hearts of potential group leaders and potential group members is by leveraging the power of testimony.  Identifying and recruiting four key testimonies for January is a secret ingredient that will change the game.  You need two types of testimonies: (1) First-time leader testimonies and (2) I’m glad I was in a group” testimonies.  See also, To Do List: Film Video Testimonies That Inspire Action and How to Develop Video or Live Testimony that Recruit Leaders or Members.
  4. Identify and recruit campaign coaches for the February campaign.  This may sound hard, but it is actually very simple.  One of the two key ingredients to sustaining the new groups you launch is providing a coach to walk alongside each of your new hosts for 10 to 13 weeks (two weeks on the front end to help them get started, the six weeks of the campaign, and a couple weeks on the back end to help them land).  See also, Recruiting Additional Coaches for Church-Wide Campaigns and Clarifying the Win for Launch Phase Coaches.
  5. Choose a follow up study that is similar to the launching study.  The second key ingredient to sustaining the new groups you launch is providing a follow up study that is similar in kind to the launching study (i.e., DVD-driven, 6 weeks long, easy to use, limited preparation, etc.).  See also, 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups.

Here’s the thing.  None of these moves are complicated.  Every one of them is simple.  Do they take some work?  Absolutely.  But they’re extremely doable.  Start now and you’ll be on a new trajectory in 2014!

What do you think?  Have a question?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Are You Prescribing the Recommended Dose

Are you prescribing the recommended dose?  Do you know what I mean by recommended dose?  Maybe because I finally went to the doctor, but doesn’t it seem obvious that with a little thought every church could determine a recommended dose of activities and practices that would help the kind of people who attend their church take the steps they need to take in order to become like Christ (to grow up in all aspects into Him).

Note: It would be very important to develop the prescription with the people in mind who need it.  See also, Which Customer Is Your Ministry Designed to Connect? and Raw Material + Process = End Product.

I think most of us could describe the recommended dose.  It would vary slightly from church to church, but wouldn’t you already have in mind the things (the activities and practices) that would help the kind of people who attend your church?

At Canyon Ridge the recommended dose is referred to as The Path.  The Path is a collection of activities and practices that we’d say everyone needs in order to grow in Christ.  Our path is:

  • Attend One (worship)
  • Quiet Time (discipleship)
  • Group One (community)
  • Serve One (volunteer)
  • Invest and Invite (outreach)

You can read a few specifics about The Path right here.  If I was writing the description, I’d articulate it a little different, but it has most of what I’d want.  See also, Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.

Clearly articulating your recommended dose can help the people who attend your church begin to see that there’s more to this than attending an occasional weekend service.  Designing the steps that lead in the direction you want them to go (and only in that direction) will help them absorb the recommended dose.  See also, Think Steps, Not Programs.

If we want people to take the recommended dose, it shouldn’t be a mystery.  It shouldn’t be confusing in any way.  It ought to be clearly marked and easy to to understand.

Is yours?

By the way, I think I first began referring to the idea of a recommended dose on a coaching call earlier this year.  You can read about what happened on the call right here.  See also, Determining the Minimum and Recommended Dose.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret

innovations dirty little secretDownloaded Larry Osborne’s newest book, Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret on Thursday.  Almost haven’t been able to put it down!  Let’s just call this a must-read for all of us.

I’ve recommended two of Larry’s previous books.  Sticky Church is a great small group ministry read (whether you’re a fan of sermon based groups or not).  And if you’re building a ministry team, you’re not going to find anything any better than Sticky Teams.  If you’re in ministry–whether you think you need to know about innovation or not–Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret is a fantastic read!

Very readable, this is my kind of book.  Packed with insights from the lead pastor of one of the most innovative churches in America, your copy will no doubt be as marked up, highlighted, and full of notes as mine.  If I could’ve figured out how to easily tweet more of the great lines, I would’ve been marked a spammer for sure!

Extremely practical, I found myself firing off emails to team members on my own staff with discussions we need to have and issues we need to tackle.  I loved the way just about every chapter could be the source for a great staff discussion.  With the right plan, any team could come away with plenty of actionable takeaways.

Larry has assembled a very helpful resource in Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret.  Wide ranging, he covers many essential topics like:

  • the importance of an exit strategy
  • how to ignite innovation
  • how to accelerate innovation
  • what are the things that sabotage innovation
  • decisions that lead to a breakout
  • the importance of vision, and
  • how to build a legacy of innovation

I don’t think I can write a strong enough recommendation for Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret.  What I can do is tell you that if you’re not reading this book, and actually if your team isn’t reading this book, you only have yourself to blame!  This is a great handbook for innovation and change.  I highly, highly recommend it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 Powerful Myths That Impact Ministry

They’re out there.  They’re sometimes hard to spot too, so nicely disguised as the truth.  And the end of the day, though, these myths are very destructive and impact ministry.

  1. There is a problem-free solution.  If we keep looking, keep studying, and meet at least one more time…we’ll find the problem-free solution, the problem-free way to start new small groups (or train new leaders, recruit volunteers, etc.).  The truth?  There is no problem-free.  Every solution, every strategy, comes with a set of problems.  Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have.  See also, The Pursuit of Problem-Free.
  2. We will be more prepared next year.  If we wait until next year, we will have laid the necessary foundation for what’s next.  We’ll have more trained small group leaders.  We’ll have recruited and trained the coaches we need in order to care for a wave of new leaders.  We’ll have the organization we need to take assimilate new attendees.  The truth?  If it’s true that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at your church again…next year will be too late for many of the unconnected people in your congregation and crowd.  See also, 5 Compromises That Derail Small Group Ministry.
  3. We don’t have the leaders we need.  If we pray harder and pray more consistently, God will send workers for our harvest field.  If God had sent the leaders we need it would be obvious.  After all, we know what a leader looks like and we’re not seeing anywhere near the number of leader candidates we need.  The truth?  In almost every case, God has already sent more than enough potential leaders to our churches.  We just don’t know who they are.  And, our strategies for identifying leaders aren’t designed for the 21st century when the easiest thing is to park the car, check kids in, and slip into a service that meets my needs and has me back on the road in 75 minutes.  If we want to identify, recruit and develop the leaders God is sending…we’ll need some new methods and strategies.  See also, Problem-Free Leader Recruitment and Development.
  4. That program doesn’t work here.  Small groups don’t work here.  Church-wide campaigns don’t work here.  Externally focused ministry doesn’t work here.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  The truth?  The way programs are designed has everything to do with how well they work.  Or, as Andy Stanley would say, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re currently experiencing.”  Want different results?  Change the design.  See also, Design Your Ministry for Results.
  5. We already know the best way to do this.  We’ve been doing this forever and if anyone knows how to do this, it’s us.  Go to a conference?  Read an article or a book?  Visit another church to see how they do it?  Hire a consultant of secret shopper?  Why?  We already know the best way to do this.  The truth?  The benefit of fresh eyes can be huge!  An openness to new ideas or alternate ways of doing things can pay huge dividends.  See also, Ten Ideas That Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry and Beware of the Lure of the Status Quo.

What do you think?  Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Completely Different Life

all in dvdHad an opportunity this week to preview All In: You Are One Decision Away from a Completely Different Life, a new DVD-driven study by Mark Batterson.  Batterson, the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. is no stranger to developing creative resources to help small groups take bold steps together.  The Circle Maker and The God Anthology, two earlier projects, were both well received.

Anchored by a four session DVD, Batterson lets us know in the opening moments that All In isn’t designed to comfort the comfortable.  If you’re looking for a study that will challenge your members to new levels of commitment, this study fits the bill.  I was captivated by a few of the opening lines that reflect the spirit of the study:

“When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. The will of God is not an insurance plan; it’s a daring plan. It’s time to quit living as if the purpose of your life is to arrive safely at death.”

Developed with Bible study veterans Kevin and Sherry Harney, each of the four sessions in the study guide include a video viewing guide (for taking notes during the video), a great set of discussion questions packed with scripture and designed to lead to application, as well as a very helpful guided prayer exercise.  The study guide also includes Between Sessions material for personal reflections, personal actions and journal reflections and notes.

All In has the potential to be a powerful church-wide campaign.  An available All In Campaign Kit includes a copy of the tradebook by the same title and a very simple campaign starter guide.  Additional free resources (sermon transcripts along with templates for posters, invite cards and bulletin inserts) are available online at Zondervan’s Small Group Source site.

Whether you’re looking for a DVD-driven study that will challenge your small groups to truly follow Christ or you’re on the hunt for a church-wide campaign that will move your church in a new direction…All In ought to be on your short-list.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”